Star Trek: Discovery theories – week 3

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Discovery Seasons 1-3, Star Trek: Lower Decks, Star Trek: Picard, and other iterations of the Star Trek franchise.

I know, I know. If you’re in the United States you’re already able to watch the fourth episode of Discovery, so some of these theories may already be out of date if you’ve seen Forget Me Not. Sorry! There were several things going on this week that I wanted to talk about as well as Discovery, including my Halloween write-up of the Voyager Season 6 episode The Haunting of Deck Twelve. If you missed that one I hope you find the time to check it out, as Voyager can sometimes feel like an underappreciated series in the overall Star Trek canon.

So let’s look at People of Earth and consider some of the theories we’ve been able to craft or advance as a result of that episode. There were two debunkings, a couple of new theories, and minor movement on a couple of pre-existing ones. But let’s start, as always, with one theory that was confirmed.

Confirmed theory: Book and the other couriers have never been to Earth.

Book’s ship at warp.

Michael Burnham confirmed this early on in People of Earth. Because of how expensive dilithium is, a trip to Earth from whatever sector of the galaxy she and Book were in was impossible. Book, in fact, had never visited Earth. Though the outcome of this was not what I expected at all – having thought that Earth would still be the Federation’s capital – I was right about Book.

In a way this speaks to the state of the galaxy. With dilithium in short supply and the Federation mostly gone, people are confined to either a small area or, as in the case of the Coridanites we met in Far From Home, a single planet. Book’s ship is capable of warp, but without enough dilithium there was no realistic prospect of him travelling to Earth. Presumably, now that he’s arrived at Earth, he also has no way to get back to the Hima sector.

So that theory was confirmed. Next up we have a couple of debunkings.

Debunked theory #1: The tree is a memorial to the USS Discovery and/or Captain Pike.

Tilly with the tree in People of Earth.

This was a theory I postulated when we first saw a glimpse of this scene in the second Season 3 trailer. I had speculated that the tree would be some kind of memorial either to the USS Discovery – which Starfleet considers to have been destroyed – or perhaps to someone the crew knew, like Captain Pike. This was a hunch, really, based on the strong emotional reaction they seemed to have when they saw it.

However, the explanation was even simpler. The tree, which had been seen in The Next Generation, was in the grounds of Starfleet Academy, and several of the crew, including Tilly and Detmer, recalled it with fondness from their time studying there.

This theory could have been a neat connection to the life and friends that the crew left behind when they left the 23rd Century. However, the way it was done accomplished this goal too, and at the same time showed just how much time had passed.

Debunked theory #2: Hima is Terralysium

The planet Hima.

When Burnham arrived in the 32nd Century in That Hope Is You, she landed (alright, crashed) on the planet Hima. However, she had intended to arrive at the planet of Terralysium. I had speculated that the two planets were, in fact, one and the same and that Terralysium had, for some reason, seen its name change at some point in the intervening centuries. This wouldn’t be uncommon based on history!

However, in People of Earth Michael Burnham revealed that she had tried to find her mother, Dr Gabrielle Burnham, including by contacting Terralysium. It now seems obvious that the two planets are not the same.

It would have made sense to think that a planet – especially one that had such a small population of pre-warp humans – would have seen its name change, especially if it had come under the sway of some other power (like the Orion Syndicate). It wasn’t the case, though, and this theory is toast.

So those theories were debunked. Let’s look at some new theories that we have in the aftermath of People of Earth.

Number 1: Discovery Season 3 takes place in an alternate timeline – or a timeline that is going to be overwritten.

Burnham in People of Earth.

I’ve been reluctant to posit this theory. In the run-up to the season premiere I even wrote that I considered it unlikely, as it would further complicate the already-fractured Star Trek timeline. However, there are possible signs or hints we can see that could indicate Discovery Season 3 takes place in an alternate timeline, parallel universe, or different reality.

First is the absence of Dr Gabrielle Burnham, Michael’s mother. She’s nowhere to be found, and while there are possible explanations for that – as we’ll see in a moment – one possibility that remains in play is that Dr Burnham is in a different parallel universe from Michael and the Discovery crew. Specifically, she may have remained in the prime timeline – i.e. the main Star Trek timeline which runs from Enterprise to Picard – while Burnham and Discovery exited the wormhole in a different universe. Something similar happened to Spock in 2009’s Star Trek, so it isn’t entirely beyond the realm of possibility.

The second part of this theory – which is really a standalone theory all its own – is that the timeline where the Burn occurred and which led to the bleak 32nd Century that we see at the moment isn’t the “true” timeline. Time travel gets messy, but in short: if someone interfered in the timeline and caused the Burn, from Starfleet’s perspective that should never have happened. They would want to undo it in order to restore the “real” timeline, one in which the Burn did not occur.

If that’s the case, much of the rest of the season may be dedicated to figuring out who caused the Burn, how, why, and then travelling through time to prevent it from ever happening.

The reason why I haven’t discussed these theories before is that I would consider both of them to be huge storytelling risks. Discovery has always been part of the prime timeline, and jumping to a different reality would be a huge change. And secondly, telling a multi-episode story, perhaps one that lasts all season, only to undo or overwrite it could easily end up feeling like a waste of time. Star Trek has done this before, but only with individual episodes like Year of Hell or Yesterday’s Enterprise. Undoing or overwriting an entire season would be a much more complicated undertaking.

However, the possibility exists, so these theories are now included on the list.

Number 2: The spore drive is going to become Starfleet’s new method of faster-than-light propulsion.

The USS Discovery initiates Black Alert and jumps through the mycelial network.

With the loss of most of the galaxy’s dilithium, it seems that faster-than-light travel – at least in the former Federation – is difficult and costly. It’s certainly possible that other factions have developed non-dilithium travel methods, and in That Hope Is You we saw Book mention a couple of possibilities for that.

However, there’s also the spore drive. At the end of Season 2 it was strongly suggested that the existence of the USS Discovery and the spore drive would be covered up by Starfleet and/or Section 31, meaning that it’s plausible to think that by the 32nd Century all knowledge of it would have been lost – especially in the post-Burn chaos that engulfed what remained of Starfleet. But the spore drive doesn’t rely on dilithium, and allows for instantaneous jumps across the galaxy – if the technology was able to be rolled out, Starfleet could be back up and running.

This season we’ve not only seen the spore drive in use, but in People of Earth Stamets gave a technobabble explanation of the way it works to Adira, firmly cementing the spore drive as being in play for the remainder of the season.

While I would expect at this stage the bulk of the story to be about unravelling what happened with the Burn and perhaps finding a way to undo it or fix it, one possible outcome could be a slow restoration of Starfleet and the Federation by rolling out the spore drive to more and more ships. Reconnecting the scattered ex-Federation worlds and bringing them back together would be far easier with the spore drive, so it remains an option.

Number 3: We’ll meet Dax when Discovery arrives at the Trill homeworld.

The Dax symbiont.

The revelation that Adira has been joined with a Trill symbiont was interesting. The first trailer last year showed us the Trill homeworld, and ever since I’d been kicking around the possibility of the Dax symbiont making an appearance. Obviously we won’t see Ezri Dax, as Trill hosts seem to have similar lifespans to humans and Klingons based on what we saw in Deep Space Nine, meaning Ezri would not still be around in this era (barring some kind of stasis or time travel story that I just don’t consider a reasonable possibility). However, the Dax symbiont could, in theory, still be alive.

We just don’t know how long symbionts live. They can certainly live for centuries; how many centuries is unclear. It’s certainly possible that Dax could have survived this long, and it would be a wonderful way to tie Discovery to the wider Star Trek franchise.

So those theories were new. Next let’s look at the remaining theories from last time, some of which saw some minor movement this week.

Number 4: Lieutenant Detmer is going to die.

Detmer in People of Earth.

I debated including this theory again this week, because it seems as though the writers of Discovery are planning to go down a mental health/post-traumatic stress storyline with Detmer. However, in Far From Home we got a lot of possible hinting at a head injury or perhaps damage to her eye implant. Though it’s looking less likely that Detmer will die and more likely that we’ll see some kind of PTSD story for her character instead, the way it was set up in Far From Home still feels to me like she’s gravely injured. Perhaps that just means the storyline was not set up very well. But I want to keep this theory in play for a little while longer while we see what, if anything, will happen to Detmer.

Number 5: We’ll see the return of a character from a past iteration of Star Trek, such as Voyager’s Doctor.

The Doctor.

After visiting Earth, perhaps the argument could be made that this theory is less likely. However, if we are going to get the return of a classic character, it seems more likely that any Starfleet officer would be with the rump Federation, even if they’re human or originally from Earth.

Dax seems the most likely candidate right now, but as I’ve written on a number of occasions there are several others who could conceivably be alive and active at this time, including a backup copy of the Doctor as seen in the Voyager Season 4 episode Living Witness.

In short, just because we didn’t see any classic Star Trek characters when Discovery visited Earth that doesn’t mean we won’t if and when they link up with the remainder of Starfleet and the Federation.

Number 6: Booker is a Coppelius synth.

A crowd of Coppelius synths seen in Star Trek: Picard.

Everything we saw of Book this week suggests that he’s human, so in that sense we’re perhaps moving a step or two back from a theory which, let’s be honest, is a bit “out there!” However, we also saw nothing to rule out the idea of a synthetic origin for Book, and in some respects we could argue from a thematic perspective that his relationship with Grudge mirror’s Data’s relationship with his cat, Spot, in The Next Generation.

The abilities Book had in That Hope Is You – including strange glowing spots which could be technological in origin – are still unexplained. Burnham may well know more about Book, having spent at least some time with him over the past year. But for us as the audience, Book is still a mystery. Is he human? Possibly. Is he an alien, either from a familiar or new race? Possibly. Is he a synth, and if he is, could he be part of a synthetic civilisation founded on Coppelius? That’s still a possibility.

Number 7: Dr Gabrielle Burnham will make an appearance.

Michael and Gabrielle Burnham.

As mentioned above, Dr Burnham’s absence is strange in some ways. However, there are perfectly reasonable explanations for why she hasn’t shown up. Upon realising the future had been saved from Control she may have gone in search of the Federation. She and her Red Angel suit may have been captured by someone in this timeline. Or she may have ended up in a different sector of the galaxy.

Burnham was able to contact Terralysium, but as we just noted above, she and Book have only seen a small fraction of the galaxy due to their limited ability to travel. Thus it’s quite possible that Dr Burnham is alive in the galaxy somewhere, and will be able to reunite with her daughter.

Number 8: The Federation’s response to the Burn – not the event itself – caused its collapse.

A Federation fleet seen in Battle at the Binary Stars.

Captain Ndoye suggested that the reason the Federation left Earth was because some folks on Earth felt that, in the aftermath of the Burn, they were turning the planet into a target. With the cause of the Burn still unknown it’s possible this feeling wasn’t unique to Earth and was repeated elsewhere.

We are edging closer to seeing this theory confirmed, but I don’t want to say the matter is settled just yet. We haven’t met the rump Federation yet, and I’d like to hear their side of the story and why they think the Burn led to the Federation’s collapse, shrinking, withdrawal, or however you want to put it.

So those theories saw movement this week. As usual I’ll briefly recap my remaining theories so they’re all in one place. For a more detailed look at any of these, take a look at my first two theory posts, which you can find on my dedicated Star Trek: Discovery page.

Number 9: The ban on time travel is being flouted, possibly by the Federation.

Is this woman, seen in the Season 3 trailers, a Starfleet officer?

It’s impossible to un-invent a powerful, useful, weaponisable technology, no matter how hard you try. Considering how crappy the 32nd Century seems to be, are we convinced that nobody at all is using time travel to try to give themselves an advantage? Not the Dominion? Not the Borg? Not Section 31? Seems unlikely to me, though for production-side reasons of wanting to keep the timeline intact and to avoid overcomplicating the plot we might be told this is true!

Number 10: The Burn was a superweapon – perhaps one the Federation detonated.

Is this a flashback to the Burn?

The cause of the Burn is not known right now, and there are multiple possibilities as I discussed when I took an in-depth look at the Burn before the season started. One possibility that stands out, however, is the Burn being the result of a superweapon. If the Federation were facing an existential threat – such as one caused by the Borg or the super-synths from Star Trek: Picard – they may have had no choice but to use such a weapon. The setting Burnham and the crew find themselves in may thus be the aftermath of a Pyrrhic victory, one in which the Federation defeated a powerful adversary but at an impossibly high cost.

Number 11: The Burn was caused by one of the Red Angel suits.

Dr Gabrielle Burnham’s powerful Red Angel suit.

There are two Red Angel suits known to exist – Michael Burnham’s and Dr Gabrielle Burnham’s. The suits are very powerful, and it isn’t a stretch to think they could be weaponised or cause some kind of accident. In an age where time travel has been prohibited, they could also be the only surviving examples of time-travel tech. If someone nefarious got their hands on a suit, they could travel back in time and attack the Federation by, oh I don’t know, destroying most of their dilithium.

Number 12: Someone stole Burnham’s Red Angel suit.

The last we saw of Burnham’s suit in That Hope Is You.

After Burnham landed on Hima, she sent her suit back in time to set off the final Red Burst for Pike and Spock. Then she ordered the suit to self-destruct. It’s possible, as hinted above, that somehow this in itself caused the Burn. But it’s also possible that someone intercepted the Red Angel suit after it left Hima. The finale of Season 2 confirmed the presence of the final Red Burst, but that’s all we know. Since we didn’t see on screen the destruction of the suit, we can’t be sure that it was destroyed as Burnham planned.

Number 13: The Federation was in serious decline before the Burn.

Why are there so few stars on the Federation flag? Does this represent systems and races that have seceded or left the Federation? And if that’s the case, why does the decades-old, pre-Burn flag (that Mr Sahil owned) represent those secessions? Perhaps the answer is that the Federation was already in decline. The Burn may have been the final straw – but not the only straw.

Number 14: The Orion Syndicate controls the trading post on Hima – and may be a major power.

An Orion guard in That Hope Is You.

The trading post Book and Burnham visited on Hima had a number of Orions present, including working as traders and guards. In addition, in Far From Home the courier Zareh suggested to one of his goons that he would sell “to the Orions.”

The Orion Syndicate has been part of Star Trek going back to The Original Series, and it makes sense in a chaotic, post-Burn environment that they would be able to operate more openly – and they may have even become a major power.

Number 15: There will be a tie-in with the Short Treks episode Calypso.

Craft, the main character of Calypso.

We got a first hint at this when Zareh used the word “V’Draysh” to refer to the Federation, as this was a term first used in Calypso. If Calypso takes place in or around the 32nd Century there could be some further crossover, perhaps even seeing protagonist Craft show up. It does raise questions, however, such as why the USS Discovery was abandoned in a nebula.

Number 16: Mirror Georgiou will travel back to the 23rd Century.

Georgiou with Michael Burnham.

Georgiou was not planning to travel to the 32nd Century, but was aboard Discovery when it left due to fighting Leland/Control. She has expressed her appreciation for the chaotic, “free” nature of the future, but there could be a reason for her to travel back in time. Not least because she’s supposed to be the main character in the upcoming Section 31 series which is meant to take place in the 23rd Century!

There could be a reason for Georgiou to travel back in time, but if she’s to work with Section 31, the main one I can think of would be to warn Starfleet about the Burn and give them time to prepare and/or prevent it.

Number 17: We haven’t seen the last of Zareh.


Despite being quite content to kill all of Zareh’s goons, Saru balked at the idea of killing the man himself. Instead, he and Georgiou let him go, sending him out into the wilds of the Colony – despite being told by the locals that that’s a death sentence. However, we didn’t see Zareh die. And in stories like these, characters like Zareh tend to pop back up looking for revenge.

So that’s it. Those are my theories going into episode four, which, as already mentioned, may be available to watch by the time you’re reading this! Hopefully next week we can get back on track with review and theory timings so we don’t run up against a deadline again. I make no promises, though!

Discovery Season 3 continues to be fascinating, and thus ripe for finding new and interesting theories. I love that the story is still a mystery even after three episodes, and there are so many different ways it could unfold – including many I can’t even predict or imagine. The best television shows manage to do this, and just like Star Trek: Picard earlier in the year kept us on our toes right until the finale, Discovery is doing a great job of keeping its mysteries and storylines under wraps.

I’m having a fun time with Season 3, and one great thing about being so late with this week’s theories is that there isn’t long left to wait for the next episode! Check back in the coming days for my review and an update to this theory list.

Star Trek: Discovery is available to stream on CBS All Access in the United States, and on Netflix in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. The Star Trek franchise – including Discovery and all other properties mentioned above – is the copyright of ViacomCBS. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Star Trek: Discovery review – Season 3, Episode 2: Far From Home

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Star Trek: Discovery, as well as for Star Trek: Picard, Star Trek: Lower Decks, and for other iterations of the Star Trek franchise.

Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 got off to a slow but decent start. That Hope Is You focused exclusively on Michael Burnham and new character Book as Burnham arrived in the 32nd Century and learned of the Federation’s collapse. But Burnham did not travel to the future alone, and this week we got to see the USS Discovery’s arrival in the future. Things didn’t exactly go to plan for Saru and the crew!

After the aforementioned solid start last week, I was hoping for something at least as good this time around – and I wasn’t left disappointed. Far From Home was on par with the season premiere, and in many ways was a co-equal half of the season premiere, continuing the world-building begun last week. We didn’t get any closer to answers about the Federation, the Burn, or any of the season’s other mysteries, but we did get more background to frame those questions. We also marked the welcome return of the USS Discovery and the rest of her crew, who had of course been absent last week. As in many Star Trek episodes, it wasn’t possible for every character to have a major impact on the story, but everyone got some amount of screen time and the chance to make their debut in the 32nd Century.

Far From Home brought back Saru and the rest of the crew, and focused on their arrival in the 32nd Century.

Usually I’d skip over the recap of the “story so far” at the beginning of the episode, but there’s something about the end of Discovery Season 2 that’s bugged me for the last eighteen months, and it happened to be included so it’s a good time to talk about it. The whole reason for taking the ship into the future was to keep the Sphere data from falling into the hands of Control. But when Control was trapped in the spore cube and incapacitated, that seemed to bring the battle to a halt. Even if that wasn’t the end of Control altogether, and the AI was still operating on one of the ships or at its home base, surely that at the very least warranted a pause from Pike, Saru, Burnham, and the rest of the crew. Maybe, if Control was fully dead, there was no need to leave the 23rd Century behind. Wouldn’t that be a cruel twist of fate for the crew? …Or a plot hole.

Anyway, with the Control storyline definitely brought to a somewhat squelchy end, I doubt the issue will be revisited. So on to Far From Home. The episode begins with the USS Discovery exiting the time-wormhole. Unlike Burnham, who was presumably offered greater protection from the time-wormhole thanks to the Red Angel suit, the crew of Discovery are all rendered unconscious and injured by the transit. They awaken as the ship is rapidly drifting to an asteroid field, and with damage sustained in transit are unable to keep control. The ship plummets to the surface of a nearby planet – perhaps the same one Burnham landed on, though that was not clear – and crashes on a glacier.

The USS Discovery’s crash-landing.

The whole crash sequence was visually impressive, and reminded me of the USS Voyager crashing in the fifth season episode Timeless (perhaps because both sequences saw the ships crashing on ice). When we saw the shot of the ship after its crash-landing in the second trailer, I felt it looked pretty crappy compared to a lot of the other CGI work. I was pleased to see that this sequence looked a lot better. Whether that’s to do with touch-up work done in the last few weeks or just because the trailer was on YouTube, which is somewhat notorious for its video compression, I can’t say. But the sequence looked fantastic, and was accompanied by a great score to make it tense and exciting.

The crash was reminiscent of the USS Voyager’s crash-landing in Timeless from Season 5.

One thing I think is interesting about the way both Burnham and the ship arrived in the future is that it was difficult. Star Trek has by no means been consistent in its portrayal of the rules surrounding time travel, but one thread of similarity tying together many time travel stories is that it isn’t particularly difficult, and this is especially true when we look to The Original Series. Episodes like City on the Edge of Forever and Assignment: Earth show time travel being a relatively painless experience for the ship and crew.

After Discovery crashes we get the opening titles, and I have just one thing to ask: is that a DOT-type robot? As seen in the Short Treks episode Ephraim and Dot? Because it sure looks that way!

Is this a DOT-type robot?

The crash saw Lieutenant Detmer – the cyborg-eyed helm officer – thrown from her seat. She appears to be concussed and is sent by Saru to sickbay. And this storyline seemed to go nowhere after that. It was implied that Detmer is suffering some kind of implant-related injury, especially after the doctor couldn’t find anything physically wrong with her. But by the end of the episode, Detmer is back at the helm and seems to snap out of her “concussed” state when she sees – spoiler – Burnham appear in the episode’s closing scene. So… what was the point of that, exactly? We didn’t spend a ton of time focusing on Detmer, but there were enough scenes interspersed through the episode to hint that she was injured, or perhaps even dying, only for it to seemingly come to naught. It’s possible that the Detmer storyline will pick up next time, in which case what we got this week will be the start, but those closing moments in particular seemed to put the storyline to bed, and I’m curious to see if anything more will come. Killing off a character we’ve been with since the premiere would be a bold move – but perhaps one Discovery should make at some point this season as part of its reinvention. Have we seen the first hints of who might not make it?

Despite the fact that the ship has literally just crashed and the damage means they have no propulsion, the bridge crew seem a little too focused on their inability to contact Burnham in the next sequence, and if I were to have one point of criticism at all for this episode it would be that. The ship has crashed on an unknown world in an unknown time and, at several points, the topic of discussion is Burnham. Anxiousness about what happened to her makes sense, but perhaps not this much of it under the circumstances. I have a specific complaint about Georgiou in this regard that we’ll come to as well.

Owosekun on the bridge after the crash-landing.

Saru gives a great speech about needing to focus on repairs to the ship before they can accomplish anything else, and the crew puts a plan in place to use tricorders in place of the non-functional internal sensors to find and replace damaged EPS relays. Saru has done a good job stepping up to be acting captain after the losses of both Lorca and Pike, and it’s a role I hope he’s able to continue in from this point in the series on. Discovery has seen two commanding officers come and go across its first two seasons, and it’s time to get some consistency in the captain’s chair. At this point it can only be Saru, so here’s hoping the position will become his on a permanent basis.

Mirror Georgiou makes her reappearance in the next scene, interrupting Tilly and Saru while they investigate the damage to the ship. As mentioned above, I have a bit of a complaint about the way she seems obsessed with Burnham. We saw this in the Season 2 episode The Red Angel, and for the second time Mirror Georgiou acts completely out-of-character when it comes to Burnham. Remember that this is not the Georgiou who was Burnham’s friend, mentor, and quasi-mother figure we met in the Season 1 premiere. This is the hardened ex-Empress of the Terran Empire from the Mirror Universe, who does not care about anyone except insofar as they can help her win power and influence. Yet here she’s frightened for Burnham’s safety, desperate to contact her, and just fawning over her in the way a doting mother would.

Mirror Georgiou is obsessed with Burnham in an out-of-character manner.

One thing I wasn’t sure how the show would handle was the remains of Control. I didn’t expect Control to be able to reassert itself, but I did wonder whether Captain Leland might somehow survive his “assimilation” experience. Whether he would have survived or not is now purely an academic discussion, however, as it turns out Georgiou destroyed his body at some point between the defeat of Control and Saru’s inspection of the ship. That’s a shame in some ways, as Leland was a potentially-interesting character who we only spent a little time with before his assimilation by Control, and having him awaken from that experience in the far future would have been an interesting angle to pursue. Everyone else is along for the ride voluntarily, but Leland wouldn’t have been, and that could have been a source of tension.

Speaking of people who voluntarily travelled into the future: there are a heck of a lot more of them than I expected. During Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2 (the Season 2 finale) Saru, Tilly, Spock, and a handful of other main characters assembled in one of Discovery’s hallways to tell Burnham that they were staying on board and would accompany her into the future. Perhaps naïvely, I assumed that we were dealing with just those people, not what seems to be practically the entire ship’s complement! I know that, for the sake of the story, there have to be background characters… but this was presented as a voluntary mission that meant leaving all of their friends and family behind, not to mention the life they’ve always known. It’s true that many Starfleet officers are altruistic, but I’m still surprised how many junior officers on the lower decks of Discovery were content to follow Burnham and Saru.

Saru and Tilly in a rather crowded hallway.

The damage to a vital piece of communication equipment sets up the next phase of the story. After a technobabble explanation, it’s apparent that there is no way to repair communications aboard the ship without acquiring raw materials, but luckily a nearby settlement may have just what they need. Saru chooses to go in person, and also picks Tilly to accompany him. The pairing of these two characters worked really well, and as they haven’t had many other opportunities to work closely together in the series so far, was an interesting departure from what came before. Though there are myriad issues with the way the change in Saru’s character was handled in Season 2, having him less cowardly and more assertive does, admittedly, make him not only a better commander, but also a more interesting and easy to root for character.

One thing I was hoping Season 3 would deliver is a proper repair to the adorable Stamets-Culber relationship, and based on what we saw this week, we’re going to get it. In a touching scene in sickbay, Dr Culber awakens Stamets from an induced coma – as they need his bio-bed. This sequence was lovely, and not only did we see Dr Culber demonstrate how much he cares for his husband, but also Anthony Rapp put in a fantastic performance as the injured and suffering Stamets. All in all, a great scene.

Stamets and Culber in sickbay.

After a continuation of the Saru-Georgiou argument from earlier – which, again, had too strong a focus on Burnham as I see it – Tilly and Saru leave for their away mission. I liked seeing Discovery’s ready-room so badly damaged, particularly the desk used by both Captains Lorca and Pike being wrecked. Would it be too much of a stretch to call this symbolic of Discovery making an emphatic break with the past as it moves into this new phase of its run? The team behind the series have talked about Season 3 as a semi-reboot, and how writing it has been akin to writing a brand-new show in some respects. I take some of these images as on-screen representations of that (even if that isn’t how they’re intended!)

Nhan is also present at the conference, having transferred from the USS Enterprise in order to accompany Discovery. I was pleased to see Rachael Ancheril has been promoted from guest-star to main cast member for the season, as she puts in a wonderful performance as the Barzan character. Immediately after this we get a grizzly sequence in engineering showing the remains of Captain Leland being disposed of. Whatever techno-magic happened in the spore cube to Control’s nanobots, it’s safe to say they aren’t coming back. Modern Star Trek has been far less restricted that shows of the past when it comes to visceral, gruesome imagery, and this follows on from the sequence with Icheb earlier in the year in the Star Trek: Picard episode Stardust City Rag as an example of that. Partly the change is due to changing attitudes and a greater acceptance of brutality in the ever-advancing quest for visual realism on our screens, and partly it’s because modern Star Trek series are on streaming platforms and aren’t constrained by the rules (or censors) of broadcast television.

The remains of Captain Leland.

Stamets is back on his feet, and I enjoyed his scene in engineering with Reno. Tig Notaro is just fantastic in her deadpan delivery as Reno, and has been a wonderful addition to Discovery. Reno’s injury (though a little unclear earlier in the episode) will set up a great moment later on, and was explained better here. Something about the trip through the wormhole has caused a spinal injury, meaning she’ll spend most of the rest of the episode sat on what I think is some kind of modified engineering workstation.

Last week I made a big deal of Discovery’s filming locations – especially when contrasted with Picard, which used too many locations within a few miles of Los Angeles! I mentioned that the show is filmed in Canada, and while that is true, many of the outdoor scenes both this week and last week were, in fact, filmed on location in Iceland. The location shoots truly bring a lot to the table, leading to the planet Discovery has crashed on feeling truly different from practically any other we’ve seen in Star Trek. It was desperately sad, though, to see the glacier where the sequence was filmed slowly melting away, leaving a large body of water behind.

The melting glacier.

As mentioned, I greatly enjoyed this character pairing. It would be great to see more uncommon character match-ups across the season or into next season, as I can think of many members of Discovery’s crew who’ve barely said more than a couple of words to each other after two full seasons! Tilly has often been little more than comic relief, so it was touching to see the respect Saru has for her and her abilities. I especially liked this line: “We are introducing ourselves to the future; you, Ensign Tilly, are a wonderful first impression.” Not only did this moment between the two of them cement Tilly as more than just a comic character, it also served as a further demonstration of Saru’s confidence and his ability to serve as a commanding officer.

Tilly and Saru spot a figure in the distance, watching them; presumably someone who had seen or detected the crash and arrived to investigate. This figure doesn’t approach them or try to communicate in any way, and they end up following him for a while. The buildings depicted on the surface of this planet reminded me of the Star Wars franchise, and if I had only seen the establishing shot of the pair trekking across the Icelandic landscape I’d have said it must surely be a scene from one of the Star Wars films. Something about the way the mining buildings were constructed, I think. It isn’t a bad look – modern Star Wars films are visually impressive, after all – just something different. And considering how far into the future the ship and crew have come, they’re bound to see many different things!

Something about this landscape and these buildings looked very “Star Wars” to me.

After rounding a corner and disappearing briefly from Tilly and Saru’s sight, the figure they’ve been following vanishes. This effect was the same as that used for the 32nd Century transporters in last week’s episode, so it’s assumed he beamed somewhere. Tilly and Saru soon find out where, as they’re similarly transported from the same spot to a ledge outside a bar. Star Trek was originally inspired by mid-century Westerns, and we see a continuation of that in the saloon doors used for the bar that Tilly and Saru enter. Not only that, but in true Western style, the patrons all go silent and turn to look at the incomers! It was a great little homage to not only the Western genre, but to Star Trek’s own origins, and I loved this moment.

The bar’s occupants are sceptical of Tilly and Saru – understandable to us as the audience, given what we know of the future, but a shock to the duo. Last week we met Mr Sahil, a “true believer” in the legends of Starfleet and the Federation, and here we meet a second character who is similarly a Federation devotee. I didn’t recognise this race of aliens at first, but they aren’t new to Star Trek; the Coridanites debuted in Enterprise.

Kal the Coridanite vouches for Tilly and Saru.

Though the Coridanties remain uneasy about Tilly and Saru, they agree to a trade when Saru mentions that they have dilithium. As we learned last time, the Burn was the explosive loss of most of the galaxy’s dilithium, meaning the important mineral is in short supply. Though the miners have ships they currently lack dilithium to power them, meaning the trade is perhaps their only option if they want to leave this planet.

The planet that I think we all assumed to be Hima (since that’s where Burnham arrived) turns out not to be. Earlier, when the crew detected several settlements I wondered if one might’ve been the trading post Burnham and Book visited, but it seems that this is an altogether different planet after all.

This planet is known simply as “The Colony.”

A brief scene with Stamets and Reno back aboard the ship sees Stamets climb up a ladder into the jeffries tubes in search of blown power relays. Reno, due to her injury, is unable to go. This sets up a moment later in the story, and again Reno is a fun character so it’s always good to have her on screen.

Back at the bar, Kal is easily able to replace the damaged component from Discovery using “programmable matter,” the first genuinely futuristic-feeling technology that we’ve seen. Mr Sahil’s office appears to make use of the same or similar tech, and we saw that in last week’s opening sequence, but here we got to see a more useful application of the tech as well as get an explanation for it. Kal was, naturally, surprised to see how unfamiliar Tilly seemed with what appears to be a fairly ubiquitous and commonly-used piece of kit. She rather unconvincingly tries to tell him she was “just testing” him, which I liked. It was a very “Tilly” way to respond!

Programmable matter.

Though Kal is receptive to the Starfleet officers and generally helpful, others in the bar are not. They mention their courier, Zareh, will surely be coming to investigate the crash, and that he’s bad news. We saw last week how some of the couriers – like Book’s rival Cosmo – can be aggressive, and the occupants of the bar would not be so afraid of Zareh without good reason. It seemed like an inevitability that Tilly and Saru would encounter him before long, and right on cue he arrived. Kal tried to tell Tilly and Saru to escape out the back, but for some reason they made no attempt to flee.

Zareh appears to be human, and arrives in dramatic fashion accompanied by several armed goons. Saru attempting to bluff his way through the conversation without the knowledge of the Burn or the status of the Federation made for a tense moment, but having abandoned his cowardice in Season 2 he handled himself very well. I was reminded of the moment in Star Trek Into Darkness when Sulu has to bluff his way through a conversation with John Harrison – both characters stepped up and gave it their best shot!

Zareh, the feared courier.

Evidently Zareh considers himself to be in control of this planet and its inhabitants, as they are reliant on him for any resources they can’t make locally. He detected Discovery’s arrival and crash-landing, and makes it very clear from the start that he knows they’re time-travellers, even though he doesn’t come out and say it until much later. The performance from guest actor Jake Weber was magnificent; he portrays Zareh as cold-hearted and creepy, especially towards Tilly.

Tilly eventually reveals the reason she and Saru are in the bar – the repaired component. Saru attempts to stand up for Kal when Zareh threatens him, which is yet another demonstration of his ability to command and his leadership qualities. However, it wasn’t enough for Zareh, who kills Kal in cold blood in front of everybody. Saru and Tilly are shocked; their simple mission to repair a damaged component has now got an innocent person killed.

Kal is killed.

After the show of force, Zareh insists on being taken to Discovery. Saru, however, stands his ground and says that he will offer a trade of dilithium, but only if they stay at the bar to negotiate. Zareh and his goons converse in “pidgin” – a language to Star Trek that isn’t wholly new, having been glimpsed in the Short Treks episode Calypso. But we’ll come to that in a moment. One of the most useful pieces of technology in Star Trek is the universal translator: a piece of kit able to translate between perhaps millions of languages, allowing the Federation to communicate with other aliens and with itself. Discovery has shown the universal translator many times, most notably in the second season episode An Obol For Charon, where the translator malfunctions and practically everyone on the crew is shown to speak a different language natively. So I’m afraid this moment, where Saru asks Zareh to speak in “the common tongue” is not consistent with Star Trek canon, nor even internally consistent within Discovery.

The writers evidently wanted to show that this “pidgin” language is in common use in the 32nd Century, but I feel the way they did so throws up more problems than it resolves. And aside from one word that Zareh uses that we’ll talk about in a moment, there wasn’t any real need for the “pidgin” language anyway. It may be something that becomes important later in the season, somehow, but in terms of the story of this episode it added nothing, and now the confusion surrounding the “common tongue” is going to be an annoyance. Star Wars uses this kind of setup for its fictional languages; “galactic basic” is their lingua franca, with various aliens having their own languages. But although we’ve seen other languages in Star Trek – Klingon most prominently, but there have been others – they’ve always been shown in the context of the universal translator. And for some reason, Discovery has chosen to abandon that here – despite the fact that just last season it was firmly established to be in use.

Saru and Zareh negotiate.

It was eventually decided that Tilly should be sent back to the ship to retrieve some dilithium, while Saru would wait with Zareh and his goons at the bar. This was despite a warning from the Coridanites that after nightfall it will be too difficult and dangerous to traverse the ice. Apparently the ice Discovery landed on is “parasitic,” which seems to imply that the ice itself is alive! Back aboard the ship, Nhan and the crew are struggling with that as they’ve begun to realise the ice is not what it seems.

We get a brief scene aboard Discovery showing Nhan had lost Georgiou, and another great sarcastic line from Reno. Back at the bar, we find out where she went. She’d been captured (or, I assume, allowed herself to be captured) by two of Zareh’s goons who were out on patrol. She’s thrown onto the floor of the bar where she proceeds to engage in a “who’s more evil” contest with Zareh. This is the moment I alluded to above, the one which partly explains the use of “pidgin.” Zareh uses the term “V’draysh” to refer to the remains of the Federation – a term we first heard used in the Short Treks episode Calypso. In that story, the V’draysh were said to be at war with another faction for whom protagonist Craft had been a soldier. Most interestingly, though, that episode showed the USS Discovery abandoned in a nebula, seemingly having been hidden there for almost a milennium. Fans have been speculating ever since how Calypso might connect to the rest of the series, and this seems to be the biggest indication yet that Calypso is set around the same time as Season 3. What does that mean for the ship? Will it be sent back in time only to be left derelict for a millennium? That would be one way to allow Mirror Georgiou to return to the 23rd Century in time for the untitled Section 31 series! But we’ll have to see whether any further connections to Calypso emerge.

Craft’s escape pod and the USS Discovery as seen in the Short Treks episode Calypso.

Georgiou, in her single-minded obsession with Burnham, wants to recover the repaired communications kit so she can contact her. With Zareh and his goons in the way, it was only going to end in a fight, and during the scuffle we got a very cool moment where Saru used his head-spikes to defeat one of the courier’s guards. This isn’t something technological nor some augmentation; every member of Saru’s species has this kind of built-in biological defence mechanism, and seeing him use it in anger for what I think is the first time was incredibly interesting.

The fight ends with Zareh alive but his goons defeated. Georgiou and Saru then have a standoff – Saru wants to let him live, Georgiou advocates killing him. And here, for the first time in the season so far, I felt the promised optimism. Post-apocalyptic settings – which Discovery’s 32nd Century kind of is (and kind of isn’t) – can be a great vehicle for telling positive, hopeful stories. And Saru’s reasoning that killing Zareh would be wrong because it isn’t who Starfleet is was exactly the kind of thing that these settings can do very well. I had been sceptical of a post-apocalyptic setting from the moment we saw the first Season 3 trailer, but so far that side of the galaxy hasn’t been as bad as I had feared. And here, we get to see the way such a setting can be used to tell positive stories and to generate positivity. I liked that – even if I agree with Georgiou that Zareh is too dangerous to keep alive. I have a theory that he’ll return later in the season – probably at an inopportune moment – but we’ll save that for my theory-crafting article!

Georgiou threatens to kill Zareh.

Tilly points out to Georgiou and Saru that the sun has set, presumably making the parasitic ice come to life. The scene ends and we’re back aboard the ship, where Reno has summoned Dr Culber to engineering. Stamets is in a bad way in the jeffries tube, but manages – with the help and support of Culber (and, to a lesser extent, Reno) – to complete the repair task, fixing Discovery’s systems and bringing power back to the ship. We got a great look inside the jeffries tube here, and also at the damaged EPS relay. The way it was designed was reminiscent of similar locations and systems seen in past iterations of the franchise – particularly in The Next Generation’s era. I liked that, and seeing Stamets work on the ship was great fun. The drama and tension of the scene was ramped up by his injury; hopefully Dr Culber can patch him up in time for next week!

After continuing to argue about what to do with Zareh, Saru and Georgiou eventually agree on letting him go. He says he won’t survive the night alone on the planet – but as mentioned, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of him. After returning to the ship, the repaired communications equipment was able to be installed. However, the parasitic ice is trapping the ship, and despite Detmer’s best efforts it seems like they’re trapped.

A seemingly-recovered Detmer tries to break Discovery free of the ice.

The arrival of another ship is presented as a problem. The crew anticipate that it is an ally of Zareh who may be seeking revenge (or to steal their dilithium). However, I wasn’t at all convinced by this. It seemed patently obvious that this ship – which locks a tractor beam onto Discovery – would be Burnham and Book, and I don’t know if that’s because I’d read all the episode synopses, seen the trailers, or what. But something about this moment didn’t work as intended and lacked any real tension.

As expected, Burnham and Book arrive to save the day, pulling Discovery free from the ice. To the surprise of the crew, Burnham has been in the 32nd Century for about a year – and if you remember what I said last time, with time-travel such things are possible! I’d wondered if we might’ve learned that it was somehow Discovery that arrived first, but instead it was the other way around and it was Burnham who’d been here for a long time. She’s thrilled to have finally found the ship and crew, and they’re just as relieved and happy to see her.

Burnham appears on the main viewscreen.

So that was Far From Home. There were some great character moments this week, and some great pairings too. The decision to have Saru team up with Tilly worked very well, and it was great to see Stamets back with Culber and Reno at various points. Saru has stepped up to become a captain the ship and crew will want to follow, and that character development has been great to see. The return of Nhan was nice, even though she didn’t have too much to do this week.

Mirror Georgiou is still a one-dimensional character, and I don’t really like her Burnham obsession in a series that already goes out of its way at times to tell us how amazing its protagonist is. Georgiou can be useful, though, and given the chaotic and violent nature of the 32nd Century her assistance may prove invaluable. Despite that, however, I’m not sold on her as a character as things currently sit, and I don’t really see much of a pathway for development given her background as a Terran.

Georgiou kills one of Zareh’s goons.

The other character whose story seemed wasted this week was Detmer. It’s possible her implant-concussion is setting up something that will be paid off in a future episode, in which case I’m all for it and I’m happy to wait and see what comes of it. However, in this week’s story it felt like something superflous, especially considering that by the end when she was back on the bridge she seemed okay.

The only other point of criticism is the confusion the episode introduced regarding the universal translator. That’s something only nerds like us would be bothered by, and perhaps if the “common tongue” is never referenced again it will be a single-episode inconsistency (of which, admittedly, there are many in Star Trek!)

As the second part of the season premiere, Far From Home was good. It was a solid, enjoyable episode with a lot going on. It gave us some tantalising hints at a possible resolution to the story from Calypso, and gave us some further background to establish the 32nd Century as a setting. It was a solidly enjoyable episode, one which gives me confidence that the season is on firm foundations. Roll on next week, which will see the ship and crew head to Earth!

Star Trek: Discovery is available to watch now on CBS All Access in the United States, and on Netflix in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. The Star Trek franchise – including Discovery – is the copyright of ViacomCBS. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.

Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 episode titles have been revealed… let’s see what we can glean!

Spoiler Warning: There are spoilers ahead for Seasons 1-2 of Star Trek: Discovery, as well as the trailers for Season 3. There are also spoilers for Star Trek: Picard Season 1. Further spoilers may be present for other iterations of the Star Trek franchise.

I was reluctant to cover this when I first saw it a few days ago. The only sources I could find for what people claimed were the “real Discovery Season 3 episode titles” were unofficial at best – and with all the made-up “rumours” that float around the online Star Trek and anti-Star Trek communities I wanted to wait for something more official before I commented! It took a little while, but there has been confirmation that these titles and synopses are legitimate, so I finally feel able to write about them.

Unlike with Picard and Lower Decks, Discovery has given us every episode’s title ahead of the season premiere, including the title of the finale. The first four episodes even have a little synopsis to go with them, so we’ll take a look at all of that in this piece and see what of consequence – if anything – we can determine!

Discovery’s third season is doing something quite unusual for a prime-time show: it’s premiering episodes on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. Because of the (roughly) twenty-four hour delay in bringing the show to the rest of the world on Netflix, this means here in the UK we’re going to get episodes on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day! How’s that for a Christmas present? In a way this shows the advantages of streaming – the reason shows would often take a Christmas break from their regular schedule was so folks who were busy with the holidays wouldn’t miss anything; in 2020 with streaming services like CBS All Access and Netflix that’s no longer a concern. Even the busiest Trekkie in the world will be able to find time to watch Discovery sometime during Christmas week!

Star Trek: Discovery will air an episode on Christmas Eve!

Depending on how you count the various episodes and films, Discovery Season 3 will contain the 800th Star Trek story. If we count each of the Short Treks, as well as episodes of The Animated Series, and all of the films, we’ll make it to 800 on New Year’s Eve when the twelfth episode of the season premieres. That’s an outstanding accomplishment for the Star Trek franchise! The 700th episode was The Forgotten from Season 3 of Enterprise in 2004, so it’s been a long road… getting from there to here. Sorry, couldn’t resist!

So let’s go through these episode titles and synopses!

The season premiere is titled That Hope Is You, which may sound familiar to you! It was a line spoken by the Federation official (or rather, who I assume to be a Federation official) in the first Season 3 trailer. The full line is: “I watched this office every day, believing that my hope was not in vain. And that hope is you, Commander Burnham.” I didn’t really like the way this line sounded when I first saw the trailer. In short, Discovery has never been at its best when it made Burnham the “chosen one” or the only character who actually does anything of consequence. This line could be interpreted as the beginning of another story where Burnham alone is capable of saving the galaxy… and honestly, I’m not thrilled about that. However, conversely the line could be about the arrival of the USS Discovery, or about some as-yet-unknown event.

The assumed Federation official.

The synopsis for the episode only mentions Burnham, saying that she’s looking for the USS Discovery and its crew. To me, the first two synopses imply that the season premiere may not include Saru or any of the rest of the crew in any meaningful way; it may simply focus on Burnham as she arrives in the future. I’m okay with that; Picard earlier in the year worked very well by building up slowly and not introducing too many characters and plot threads all at once, and if that’s the route Discovery will go too then I’m all for it.

Based on the title alone I’m fairly sure we’ll meet the Federation official from the first trailer in this episode. It should also mark the introduction of Booker.

Episode 2 is titled Far From Home – a title it coincidentally shares with the most recent Spider-Man film! The synopsis mentions the USS Discovery being repaired after crash-landing. Assuming that the crash is a result of arriving in the future via the time-wormhole, this seems to suggest the episode will mark the first appearance of Saru and the rest of the familiar crew. The crash sequence (or a large part of it) was shown in the second trailer. It looked fantastic, and reminded me a little of the USS Voyager crashing in the episode Timeless. The shot of Discovery after it crashed, however, was a rare example of a miss in terms of CGI, and I hope this is rectified by the time the episode airs!

This shot looked crap in the trailer.

The synopsis also mentions that Saru and Tilly will search for Burnham – presumably while the rest of the crew work to repair the ship. We haven’t seen too much interaction between these two characters, and as they’re very different from one another I think there’s scope for a sequence where they’re teamed up to be quite a lot of fun. There was a moment in the first trailer where Saru and Tilly appeared to don some kind of hooded garment, perhaps that’s taken from this episode.

People of Earth is the title of episode 3, and confirms that Burnham and the rest of the crew will definitely get back together. We saw glimpses of this reunion in both of the trailers, and I assume it may happen toward the end of episode 2 or perhaps at the beginning of episode 3. Interestingly, this episode will see the ship and crew travel to Earth, and this could be where we learn more about the Burn and the history of the galaxy in the years between Picard and Discovery. Of all the episodes so far, this seems the most likely to contain easter eggs and references!

There was a scene shown in the second trailer where the crew visit a large tree and appear to have a strong emotional reaction. I theorised that this tree could be a memorial to the USS Discovery, or perhaps to a character they knew such as Captain Pike. That could explain the strong reaction. As this episode takes place on Earth, it’s my guess for where this scene or sequence may appear.

The crew by the old tree.

Episode 4 is titled Forget Me Not, and this will be where we visit the Trill homeworld for the first time since Deep Space Nine. Will we see Dax return, perhaps? The synopsis doesn’t hint at that, but the title might. Forget Me Not is evocative; it could be referring to us – the fans – not forgetting about the character of Dax and the events of past Star Trek shows. Or that could be me clutching at straws!

The other part of the synopsis talks about Saru helping the crew to “reconnect.” I take that to mean they need to reconnect to each other, and forming a close-knit group will be important for the crew in a new and difficult time period. It could also mean that the crew needs to better connect with the world beyond their ship, to reconnect with the galaxy in this new era. Either way, the synopsis says this will lead to “a surprise,” and I have genuinely no idea what that could be, or even if it will be a pleasant or unpleasant surprise!

Now we’ve run out of synopses, but there are still titles for the remaining episodes of the season. I wonder if that means something very significant will happen in episode 4; something so big that it wasn’t possible to summarise the following episodes without spoiling a major plot point or storyline? Time will tell on that one!

Episode 4 will see Burnham visit the Trill homeworld.

Die Trying is the title of episode 5, and the obvious thing to pull from this is the first word. Will a major character die? Or is the title simply saying that someone (or the whole crew) will put their absolute all into some task – to either accomplish it or die trying? The latter seems more likely; I would be surprised if Discovery (or any major series) would telegraph the death of a character in such an obvious way. However, we saw in Picard that some plot points were spoilt ahead of time, particularly by announcing actors in the opening titles. So anything’s possible!

This leads us to episode 6, Scavengers. The second trailer showed two sequences this could refer to – one with a faction leader or warlord who Mirror Georgiou attacks, and another that seemed to be set in a post-apocalyptic markeplace or refugee camp that Burnham visits. Either of these could be the home of a gang of scavengers, and if the Burn is as bad as we assume it is, scavenging could be one way the survivors make a living without the help and protection of the Federation and advanced technology.

Episode 7 is perhaps the most interesting title – at least on the surface. Unification III sounds like it will follow on from The Next Generation’s two-part episode of the same name, which saw Captain Picard team up with Spock on the Romulan homeworld. Spock had been pursuing a potential Vulcan-Romulan reunification, and arguably laid the groundwork for improved Federation-Romulan relations in the 24th Century. Sela attempted to hijack Spock’s mission and conquer Vulcan by force, but was defeated by Picard and co.

Spock in The Next Generation two-part episode Unification.

So the big question is: what happened next? We saw in 2009’s Star Trek and in Picard that the Romulan homeworld was destroyed by a supernova. Relations between the Federation and Romulans initially seemed to improve; the two powers worked together in the Dominion War and began working together to evacuate Romulus prior to the attack on Mars by the rogue synths. Following the revelation at the end of Picard Season 1 that the Romulans were responsible for that attack – one which killed over 90,000 people and left Mars uninhabitable – we don’t yet know what happened. The path to reconciliation seems impossible as of the end of Picard, let alone full-scale reunification! But the episode title is tantalising, and surely must involve the Romulans in some capacity. My guess is that full reunification didn’t happen, but that perhaps the Vulcans and Romulans are cooperating and working together more regularly, particularly in the face of the Burn. Spock, of course, is Burnham’s adoptive brother, so she may learn more about his life in this episode; it could be a “unification” between the two of them.

As we get into December we have an episode titled The Sanctuary. This may refer to the futuristic space station, spacecraft, or facility glimpsed in the second trailer, which may be a Starfleet base. There was a black-uniformed woman who may be a Starfleet officer, and this could be her base of operations. Of all the locations we saw across the two trailers, this is the only one I’d describe as anything close to a “sanctuary” from the chaos in the galaxy. But it’s a vague title and I could be way off-base!

This black-uniformed woman may be a Starfleet officer.

Next up is a two-parter: Terra Firma. This could refer to Earth, but as the ship and crew have already visited in episode 3 I’m not so sure. “Terra firma” is Latin, and basically means “solid ground.” That could be a metaphor; it’s a fairly common expression that travellers use upon reaching a destination, particularly after a long voyage at sea. Could the crew of the USS Discovery have been on a very long voyage and finally arrived back? That’s one possibility. It could also be a metaphor for stability; perhaps the crew have been able to partially restore the Federation by this point, and Starfleet is finally on solid ground.

The second trailer also hinted at coronal mass ejections – which are one possible explanation for the Burn. If CMEs are going to be a big part of the story, perhaps evading one and reaching a safe place is going to be a storyline seen in these two episodes. There’s one other possibility: that there’s some connection to the human-supremacist group Terra Prime, who were seen in the fourth season of Enterprise. Catastrophic situations have historically given rise to extremist groups, and if the Burn is as bad as we assume it is, part of the fractured Federation could have turned to a human-centric group in search of strength and stability.

The frame from the trailer that mentioned CMEs.
Screenshot mirrored and cropped for clarity.

Christmas Eve will bring us an episode titled The Citadel. Like The Sanctuary, this could refer to the possible Starfleet base. “The Citadel” could be the new name given to Starfleet HQ or to a major Starbase, and this could be a story set there. A citadel is also a kind of castle or strong fortification, so this could be a metaphor for hunkering down and preparing for something.

As mentioned, New Year’s Eve will bring us the 800th Star Trek story: an episode titled The Good of the People. There are a couple of ways to read into this – the first is that Burnham and the crew will do something big or perhaps make a sacrifice believing what they’re doing will benefit the people of the Federation and/or the galaxy. The second is that the title refers to good people among a wider population; perhaps people who rise up against a dictator or who fight for a righteous cause.

The season finale, airing in the first week of 2021, is titled Outside. This is a very simple title, and one which could be read into in many ways. Perhaps Burnham or someone else in the crew finds themselves in the minority; their idea or opinion on where to go next is not accepted, leaving them on “the outside.” Perhaps the crew, having successfully restored the Federation, now consider themselves outsiders in a new world.

Burnham is an “outsider” in this new century… but is that what the title refers to?

If the ultimate reason for the Burn turns out to be connected to time travel, perhaps the season will end with Burnham and the crew undoing it, effectively wiping out this timeline in the process. If that happens, Burnham and/or the crew may exist “outside” of normal spacetime during the episode.

So those are my thoughts on the episode titles and synopses that we got. I have no doubt I’m utterly wrong in many cases, but for me, speculating and theory-crafting is all part of the fun.

Now that Lower Decks has concluded (my review of the season finale is coming soon, don’t worry!) we’re less than a week out from Discovery’s return. It’s been eighteen months since Season 2 ended, so if you need a refresh, I recommend my article titled The Road to Season 3, which you can find by clicking or tapping here. There I give a synopsis of the first two seasons from both the production and in-universe sides. You can find the rest of my Star Trek: Discovery articles on my dedicated Discovery page, which you can find by clicking or tapping here, or by using the menu above. I hope you’ll join me when the season debuts for reviews, theories, and more.

Star Trek: Discovery Season 3 will premiere on the 15th of October on CBS All Access in the United States, and on the 16th of October on Netflix in the United Kingdom and around the world. The Star Trek franchise – including Star Trek: Discovery – is the copyright of ViacomCBS. Stock images courtesy of Unsplash. This article contains the thoughts and opinions of one person only and is not intended to cause any offence.